Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Salary Survey Finds Overall Median Base Salary for Senior-Level Administrative Positions in Higher Education Increased by 4%

"CUPA-HR recently released its 2006-07 Administrative Compensation Survey report. Results indicate that the overall median base salary for senior-level administrative jobs in colleges and universities increased by 4%. Increases were greater this year than in any of the previous three years.

This finding reflects the salaries of nearly 73,000 job incumbents in public and private institutions nationwide. Salaries were reported by 1,329 institutions for 272 selected positions, mostly at the director level and above. CUPA-HR received assistance from EDUCAUSE in updating the survey’s Information Technology positions. In total, 61 new positions were added to the survey this year.

As it has now for many years, the overall median salary increase continued to outpace inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers [CPI-U] in 2006 was 3.2% higher than in 2005." Source: College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

Download Administrative Compensation Executive Summary (PDF) | Access to tables and other data

How to Best Use Page Monitors For Online Research

"RSS feeds are easy-to-read and easy-to-follow sources of site changes and content updates, but many sites still don't provide RSS feeds. What's an information trapper to do? Use a page monitor! This chapter discusses the various kinds of page monitors that are available, walks you through how to set one up, and shows you how to limit the number of insignificant page updates you receive." Chapter of new book Information Trapping: Real-Time Research on the Web by Tara Calishain

Link to online publication

Internet evolution: Wireless Internet Access

"Some 34% of internet users have logged onto the internet using a wireless connection
either around the house, at their workplace, or some place else. In other words, one-third of internet users, either with a laptop computer, a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA), or cell phone, have surfed the internet or checked email using means such as WiFi broadband or cell phone networks.

The differences between wireless and home broadband users are statistically significant and notable because most wireless users (80%) have broadband connections at home. The findings suggest that the “relentless connectivity” afforded by wireless access represents a different quality in online behavior." Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Download PDF report | Link to online summary

Two new UN publications on addressing violence against women

"Programming to Address Violence Against Women: Ten Case Studies" documents United Nations Population Fund's (UNPF) experience addressing many forms of violence against women. Intended primarily for development practitioners and others seeking to change attitudes and practices, it offers lessons that can help scale up responses. Projects in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Sierra Leone and Turkey are discussed. Some of the principles derived from the case studies are summarized in a complementary handbook, Ending Violence Against Women. Source: United Nations

Download Programming to Address Violence Against Women (PDF)
| Link to online abstract

Download handbook : Ending Violence Against Women (PDF) | Link to online abstract

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Exemptions to the Prohibition on Circumvention

"Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998, in part, to help copyright owners protect their exclusive rights against infringement facilitated by digital technologies, including the Internet. Section 1201 of the DMCA outlaws circumvention of any access control devices, such as password codes, encryption, and scrambling, that copyright owners may use to protect copyrighted works. The DMCA's prohibition on circumvention is not absolute, however. In addition to several statutory exceptions to the general anti-circumvention provision, the DMCA authorizes the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, to grant temporary exemptions in order to ensure that the public may use certain copyrighted works in non-infringing ways, including engaging in "fair use" of such works. Exemptions to the prohibition on circumvention of access controls are granted every three years, following a notice-and-comment rulemaking proceeding that the Register of Copyrights conducts." Source: Congressional Research Service

Download PDF Report | Link to online Summary

Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries

The report is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive assessment on the well-being of children and young people in the world’s advanced economies (21 selected OECD member countries), focusing on six dimensions: material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviours and risks, and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being. The landmark report shows that among all of the countries studied, there are improvements to be made and that no single country leads in all six of the areas. Source: United Nations [via UN Pulse]

Download PDF Publication | Link to other related UN publications

Friday, February 23, 2007

Voters Remain In Neutral As Presidential Campaign Moves Into High Gear

"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 7-11 among 1,509 Americans, finds that Democrats are further along than Republicans in thinking about possible presidential candidates. First, a larger percentage of the Democrats than Republicans are paying attention to the campaign (31% vs. 20%). Notably, 38% of liberal Democrats say they have given the campaign a lot of thought, compared with just 24% of conservative Republicans. And while nearly half of Democrats (46%) volunteered a presidential candidate they might support, only 29% of Republicans named a candidate for whom they might vote." Source: Pew Research Center for people and the press.

Download PDF Report |PDF Topline Questionnaire | Link to online Summary

Iraq Most Closely Followed and Covered News Story

"The public and the news media divided their attention last week among the top international stories, harsh winter weather, politics and the ongoing saga surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The Iraq war remained the No. 1 story both in terms of public interest and news coverage, however, the public hung on to the Anna Nicole Smith story, even as press coverage began to taper off." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Download PDF Report | Download PDF topline questionnaire | Link to online summary

Sharing Law Enforcement and Intelligence Information: The Congressional Role

Almost all assessments of the attacks of September 11, 2001, have concluded that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies had failed to share information that might have provided advance warning of the plot. This realization led Congress to approve provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56) and subsequent legislation that removed barriers to information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and mandated exchanges of information relating to terrorist threats. Most experts agreed that statutory changes, albeit difficult to enact, were essential to change the approaches taken by executive branch agencies. The barriers that existed prior to September 2001 had a long history based on a determination to prevent government spying on U.S. persons. This had led to the establishment of high statutory barriers to the sharing of law enforcement and intelligence information. The statutes laid the foundation of the so-called "wall" between intelligence and law enforcement that was buttressed by regulations, Justice Department policies, and guidance from the judicial branch. Despite the widespread acceptance of a barrier between law enforcement and intelligence, by the early 1990s it had become apparent to some that the two communities could mutually support efforts to combat international criminal activities including narcotics smuggling. Later in the decade dangerous threats to the U.S. posed by international terrorists came into sharper focus. Nevertheless, efforts to adjust laws, regulations, and practices did not succeed, drawing strong opposition from civil libertarians. Only the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks overcame earlier concerns and led Congress and the executive branch to remove most statutory barriers to information sharing. Laws and regulations have changed significantly since September 2001 and an Information Sharing Executive (ISE) has been established within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to design and implement information sharing procedures. It is clear, however, that sustaining the exchange of law enforcement and intelligence information remains a challenge. In particular, there is continued concern about sharing of information that might in some way jeopardize the rights of free speech or association of U.S. persons. This opposition has contributed to the difficulty Congress has had in addressing legislation in this area and can be expected to continue. Some argue that, given the extent of legislation enacted in recent years, extensive oversight of information sharing efforts may be an appropriate way to ensure that the balance between ensuring domestic security and protecting civil liberties can be maintained.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Excessive CEO Pay: Background and Policy Approaches

During the past several decades, average pay for non-management workers has stagnated, after adjustment for inflation, falling slightly since the early 1970s. In contrast, compensation of top corporate executives has risen dramatically. Supporters of current CEO pay levels argue that executive compensation is determined by normal private market bargaining, that rising pay reflects competition for a limited number of qualified candidates, and that even the richest pay packages are a bargain compared with the billions in shareholder wealth that successful CEOs create. Others, however, cite instances in which executive pay appears to be excessive. Some see a social equity problem in which CEO pay is seen to embody a troublesome rise in income and wealth inequality. Others see excessive pay as a form of shareholder abuse made possible by weak corporate governance structures and a lack of clear, comprehensive disclosure of the various components of executive compensation. This report describes the major legislative and regulatory proposals that have sought to remedy these perceived problems. It will be updated as events warrant. Source: Congressional Research Service

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Child Support Provisions Considered But Not Enacted During the 2002-2005 Welfare Reauthorization Debate

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, Part D of Title IV of the Social Security Act, was enacted in January 1975 (P.L. 93-647) and most recently amended by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171). The CSE program is administered by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is funded by general revenues. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and nine tribal nations operate CSE programs and are entitled to federal matching funds. In FY2005, the CSE program collected $23 billion in child support on behalf of more than 17 million children. The CSE program is intended to help strengthen families by securing financial support for children from their noncustodial parent on a consistent and continuing basis. Although the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (enacted February 8, 2006) included significant changes to the CSE program, it did not include many of the child support provisions that had been considered during the preceding four-year debate within the context of welfare reauthorization. This report discusses 12 such provisions that were passed by either the House or the Senate Finance Committee (or both). Source: Congressional Research Service

Download PDF report | Link to online publication

Older Americans Act: FY2006 Funding, FY2007 Proposals, and FY2008 Budget Request

"The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major federal vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services for older persons. These include supportive services, congregate and home-delivered nutrition services, community service employment, the long-term care ombudsman program, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older persons. The act also supports grants to Native Americans and research, training, and demonstration activities." Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online summary

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Requiem for Palestinian Reform: Clear Lessons from a Troubled Record

"In this Carnegie Paper, Requiem for Palestinian Reform; Clear Lessons from a Troubled Record, Nathan Brown, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, examines the successful establishment of democratic reforms in Palestine from 2002 to 2006, the changing nature of international support for reform following Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006, and lessons for the Arab and international community on the failure of democratic reform.

Brown argues that the importance of utilizing democratic reform as long-term objective, rather than as a means to an end, cannot be better illustrated than in Palestine. The immediate international abandonment of the reform movement following Hamas’ victory subjected Palestinian reformers to withering domestic criticism and promoted cynicism among many Palestinians." Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Iran: "Weakling" or "Hegemon"?

"Iran is a state that must be assessed largely in terms of its capabilities, not its intentions. Its political structure is too unstable to predict, and its choice of defensive or offensive options is more likely to be determined by its perceptions of future opportunities and risks than its current policies and strategy. Seen from this perspective, Iran is not a “weakling,” but neither is it capable of major aggression or becoming a regional 'hegemon' if it meets effective resistance from its neighbors and the US."Source: Center for Stratigic and International Studies

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| Link to online summary

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Applying Psychology to Economic Policy Design: Using Incentive Preserving Rebates to Increase Acceptance of Critical Peak Electricity Pricing

Abstract: "This project extends the idea that policy makers should address problems by improving economic incentives. This project adds that presenting incentives in a way that reflects how people make decisions can sometimes improve consumers’ responses to the incentives and policy outcomes. This paper uses behavioral economics to propose ways to increase electricity policy effectiveness. The cost of generating power fluctuates enormously from hour to hour but most customers pay time-invariant prices for power. The mismatch between the fluctuating cost and the fixed price wastes billions of dollars. Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) reduces this waste by setting offpeak, peak, and “critical” prices that better reflect the cost of power during time periods. Customers in CPP pilot programs used less power during high-priced periods than did customers on traditional, time-invariant rates. CPP customers reported high satisfaction levels and often saved 10% or more. Yet, roughly 99% of customers reject opportunities to switch to CPP. The psychology literature documents a set of decision making heuristics that people use to choose among options with uncertain payoffs. This paper describes the evidence that one or more of these heuristics explains customer reluctance to opt-in to CPP. It then suggests Incentive Preserving Rebates that change the presentation of CPP to address these heuristics. Incentive Preserving Rebates reframe scarcity “events” as opportunities to get rebates rather than as periods of extremely high prices. Incentive Preserving Rebates change the presentation, but change neither marginal incentives nor each customer’s total annual payments. The paper then explores the implications of Incentive Preserving Rebates for customers who participated in a California pilot program." Source: Center for the Study of Energy Markets. Paper CSEMWP-162. U.C. Berkeley

Download PDF Report | Link to eScholarship repository

Too Much Anna Nicole, But the Saga Attracts an Audience

Pew Launches Weekly News Interest Index

"Most Americans feel the press has gone overboard in covering the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Fully 61% believe the Smith story has been overcovered, far more than the number saying that about any other recent story. Even so, a sizable minority (11%) followed Smith's death more closely than any of last week's other top stories. This is on par with the number who cited news about the 2008 presidential candidates (13%) or the Super Bowl (11%) as the stories they followed most closely. The war in Iraq was the top story for the week of Feb. 5, with 30% following it most closely." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download PDF Report | Link to online Summary

Friday, February 16, 2007

Paths to Modernity: China and India

"Wang Hui, editor of Dushu (Beijing), talked about the different historical narratives of China. He argued that the emergence of the modern nation state began in the Song Dynasty and thus the process was independent of European expansion into Asia. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Director, Center for India and South Asia, Department of History, UCLA, discussed theories on the modernization of India. He talked about challenges to the dominant view that modernity was exported to India via British rule. The accompanying audio files provide the complete recording and audience discussion of the talks given by the authors. No formal paper is included. Those who download the audio files must have their own software for playing and listening." Source: Center for Social Theory and Comparative History Seminar Series, U.C.L.A.

Download PDF Publication | Link to eScholarship repository

Thursday, February 15, 2007

War Support Slips, Fewer Expect a Successful Outcome

"Country is 'Losing Ground' On Deficit, Rich-Poor Gap

Public support for the war in Iraq continues to decline, as a growing number of political independents are turning against the war. Overall, a 53% majority of Americans believe the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible - up five points in the past month and the highest percentage favoring a troop pullout since the war began nearly four years ago." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the press.

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Economic Report of the President

The Economic Report of the President is issued by the Executive Office of the President and the Council of Economic Advisers. It includes:

* Current and foreseeable trends and annual numerical goals concerning topics such as employment, production, real income and Federal budget outlays.
* Employment objectives for significant groups of the labor force.
* Annual numeric goals.
* A program for carrying out program objectives.

The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations.

Included in the Economic Report of the President is the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers. Each year, the Council of Economic Advisers submits this report on its activities during the previous calendar year in accordance with the requirements of the Congress as set forth in section 10(d) of the Employment Act of 1946 as amended by the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978.

The Economic Report of the President has been published since 1950 and is available on GPO Access from 1995 forward. A searchable database of the Economic Report of the President is available from 1996 forward. Documents are available in ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), with many of the tables also available for separate viewing and downloading as spreadsheets in xls and comma delimited formats.
Source: Government Printing Office

Download PDF Report
| Link to online gateway

The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building

"Since the end of the Cold War, the United States, NATO, the United Nations, and a range of other states and nongovernmental organizations have become increasingly involved in nation-building operations. Nation-building involves the use of armed force as part of a broader effort to promote political and economic reforms, with the objective of transforming a society emerging from conflict into one at peace with itself and its neighbors. This guidebook is a practical “how-to” manual on the conduct of effective nation-building. It is organized around the constituent elements that make up any nation-building mission: military, police, rule of law, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, democratization, and development. The chapters describe how each of these components should be organized and employed, how much of each is likely to be needed, and the likely cost. The lessons are drawn principally from 16 U.S.- and UN-led nation-building operations since World War II and from a forthcoming study on European-led missions. In short, this guidebook presents a comprehensive history of best practices in nation-building and serves as an indispensable reference for the preplanning of future interventions and for contingency planning on the ground." Source: RAND Corp.

Table of contents

Chapter One:
Preparing for Nation-Building

Chapter Two:
The Military

Chapter Three:
The Police

Chapter Four:
Rule of Law

Chapter Five:
Humanitarian Relief

Chapter Six:

Chapter Seven:
Economic Stabilization

Chapter Eight:

Chapter Nine:

Chapter Ten:
Conclusion: The Cost of Nation-Building

Download full PDF Report
| Download PDF Summary | Link to online abstract

Commission Releases Final Report for NCLB Reauthorization

"The Commission on No Child Left Behind released its final recommendations for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The 75 recommendations in the report focus on making sure teachers and principals are effective, improving accountability measures, effective school improvement and student options, rigorous standards, and strengthening high schools." Source: The Aspen Institute for Public Policy.

Download PDF Report | Link to press release

How Reliable Are the Early Presidential Polls?

"The flurry of candidate announcements in an open race has spurred media attention to the 2008 presidential contest even earlier in the electoral cycle than usual. But followers of early poll readings on the relative viability of declared candidates should bear in mind some caveats. Early frontrunners for the Republican nomination in most of the past seven open contests have gone on to win the nomination, but this year there is not one but two GOP frontrunners. On the Democratic side, even when there is a clear frontrunner as there is this year with Sen. Hillary Clinton, the early polls have been less reliable in predicting who will capture the nomination." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Link to online report

Rhythms of Social Interaction: Messaging within a Massive Online Network

We have analyzed the fully-anonymized headers of 362 million messages exchanged by 4.2 million users of Facebook, an online social network of college students, during a 26 month interval. The data reveal a number of strong daily and weekly regularities which provide insights into the time use of college students and their social lives, including seasonal variations. We also examined how factors such as school affiliation and informal online “friend” lists affect the observed behavior and temporal patterns. Finally, we show that Facebook users appear to be clustered by school with respect to their temporal messaging patterns. Authors: Scott Golder, Dennis Wilkinson, and Bernardo Huberman Source: Information Dynamics Laboratory, HP Labs

Download PDF Report | Link to online abstract

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

"Prior to 1984, neither federal civil service workers nor Members of Congress paid taxes to Social Security, nor were they eligible for Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act (P.L. 98-21) required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress directed the development of a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-335). Members of Congress first elected in 1984 or later are covered automatically under the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), unless they decline this coverage. Those who already were in Congress when Social Security coverage went into effect could either remain in CSRS or change their coverage to FERS." Updated: Feb. 7, 2007.

Source: Congressional Research Service.

Download full PDF report | Link to online summary

Monday, February 12, 2007

Public Health and Medical Preparedness and Response: Issues in the 110th Congress

"The nation's systems to detect and respond to public health threats such as bioterrorism gained renewed interest following the 2001 terrorist attacks. Federal authorities enacted in comprehensive public health preparedness legislation in 2002 were reauthorized in the 109th Congress, building upon lessons learned from flaws in the response to Hurricane Katrina and growing concerns about a flu pandemic. The 109th Congress also completed a statutory reorganization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The 110th Congress is likely to study the implementation of these two laws, and to remain interested in other issues in public health and medical preparedness and response." Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full PDF Report | Link to online summary

House Page Board Revision Act of 2007

"To revise the composition of the House of Representatives Page Board to equalize the number of members representing the majority and minority parties and to include a member representing the parents of pages and a member representing former pages, and for other purposes." Public Law No: 110-2 Source: Government Printing Office [via the jurist}

Link to online Summary | full-text of law (pdf)

Michigan appeals court rules against same-sex benefits

"It is undisputed that under the marriage amendment, heterosexual couples that have not married also may not obtain employment benefits as a couple on the basis of an agreement "recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose. . . ." [T]he amendment is grounded in the longstanding and legitimate governmental interest in favoring the institution of marriage. . . . [T]he amendment is narrowly tailored to further the legitimate governmental interest in protecting and strengthening the institution of marriage, and not to arbitrarily or invidiously exclude individuals from the protections of the laws of this state. . . ." Source: Jurist Paper Chase

Download full-text ruling in pdf format

Friday, February 09, 2007

Earthquakes: Risk, Monitoring, Notification, and Research

"Close to 75 million people in 39 states face some risk from earthquakes. Seismic hazards are greatest in the western United States, particularly California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. The Rocky Mountain region, a portion of the central United States known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and portions of the eastern seaboard, particularly South Carolina, also have a relatively high earthquake hazard. Compared to citizens of other countries, relatively few Americans have died as a result of earthquakes over the past 100 years, but the country faces the possibility of large economic losses from earthquake-damaged buildings and infrastructure. Until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 1994 Northridge (CA) earthquake was the costliest natural catastrophe to strike the United States; some damage estimates were $26 billion (in today's dollars). Estimates of total loss from a hypothetical earthquake of magnitude more than 7.0 range as high as $500 billion for the Los Angeles area. Given the potentially huge costs associated with a severe earthquake, an ongoing issue for Congress is whether the federally supported programs aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes are an appropriate response to the earthquake hazard." Source: Congressional Research Service

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Amendments: 110th Congress

Enacted in 1966 after 11 years of investigation, legislative development, and deliberation in the House and half as many years of such consideration in the Senate, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) displaced the ineffective public information section of the Administrative Procedure Act. The FOIA was designed to enable any person -- individual or corporate, regardless of citizenship -- to request, without explanation or justification, presumptive access to existing, identifiable, unpublished, executive branch agency records on any topic. The statute specified nine categories of information that may be permissibly exempted from the rule of disclosure. Disputes over the accessibility of requested records could be ultimately settled in court. Not supported as legislation or enthusiastically received as law by the executive branch, the FOIA was subsequently refined with direct amendments in 1974, 1976, 1986, and 1996. The statute has become a somewhat popular tool of inquiry and information gathering for various quarters of American society -- the press, business, scholars, attorneys, consumers, and environmentalists, among others -- as well as some foreign interests. The response to a request may involve a few sheets of paper, several linear feet of records, or perhaps information in an electronic format. Such responses require staff time, search and duplication efforts, and other resource commitments. Agency information management professionals must efficiently and economically service FOIA requests, doing so, of late, in the sensitized homeland security milieu. Requesters must be satisfied through timely supply, brokerage, or explanation. Simultaneously, agency FOIA costs must be kept reasonable. The perception that these conditions are not operative can result in proposed new corrective amendments to the statute. Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online summary

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Two Important Trends Suggest Americans May Now Be Ready to Elect an African American President

"The strong showing of Democrat Barack Obama in early trial heat polls for the 2008 presidential election raises anew the question of whether the American public is ready to support an African American candidate for president. Recent polling points to two significant shifts on this question.

The first is that an ever larger majority of the public indeed says that they are willing to vote for an African American for the nation's highest office. The second is that polls conducted in campaigns pitting white and black candidates against each other are doing a better job of accurately predicting the outcome of the election now than in the past, suggesting that hidden biases that confounded polling in biracial elections in the 1980s and early 1990s are no longer a serious problem." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Link to online report.

Pew Report: What Americans Pay For - and How

'Information Age' Bills Keep Piling Up

"Paying the monthly bills is a different experience for Americans now than it was a generation ago, a new Pew Research Center survey has found. A sizable minority of adults do most of their transactions online. A sizable majority pays for one or more of the "big three" information age consumer staples each month– internet connection, cell phone service and cable or satellite television service. And at the same time that they are carrying the cost of these new technologies, Americans are also paying off record levels of credit card debt each month.

The Pew survey finds that nearly three-in-ten adults (28%) say the most common way they take care of their regular monthly bills is by an online or electronic payment. A bare majority (54%) mostly uses checks, and a small minority (15%) mostly uses cash." Source: Pew Research Center

Download PDF Report
| Link to online Summary

IPCC Report : Physical Science Basis of Climate Change

Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”, also known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

“Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, assesses the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change.

The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries. Over 620 expert reviewers and a large number of government reviewers also participated. Representatives from 113 governments reviewed and revised the Summary line-by-line during the course of this week before adopting it and accepting the underlying report.

Available online are the Summary for Policy Makers (PDF) and Webcast of the Press Conference.

Download PDF Summary | Link to IPCC

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Teacher Attrition and Mobility

"This First Look report provides some selected findings from the 2004-05 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) along with data tables and methodological information. The TFS is a follow-up of a sample of the elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the previous year’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The TFS sample includes teachers who leave teaching in the year after the SASS data collection and those who continue to teach either in the same school as last year or in a different school. The purpose of the Teacher Follow-up Survey is to determine how many teachers remained at the same school, moved to another school or left the profession in the year following the SASS administration." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download PDF Report | Link to online abstract

Out of the Shadow of the State: Immigrant Nonprofits as Self-Motivated Political Actors in Urban Politics

Abstract: "I document and analyze the political presence in local politics of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations catering to immigrants and refugees in San Francisco, California. Contrary to much of the nonprofit literature rationalizing the political apathy and quietude of 501(c)(3) nonprofits, my qualitative data from fieldwork conducted in 2005 and 2006 reveals that immigrant nonprofits have a broad understanding of what constitutes “politics” and are politically active in both the local policymaking and electoral processes. My data further shows that immigrant nonprofits function as multi-dimensional advocates engaged in legislative, administrative, and judicial advocacy at the local level. While immigrant nonprofits have a visible political presence within all three branches of local government, I argue that they are unique in the degree to which they engage in administrative advocacy targeted at the city’s bureaucratic agencies." Author: Els de Graauw Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_18.

Download full PDF publication | Link to eScholarship Repository

Monday, February 05, 2007

Congressional Testimony by James Dobbins: Ending Afghanistan's Civil War

"The resurgence of civil war in Afghanistan can be attributed to two fundamental causes. One is the failure of the United States, the Karzai government, and the international community as a whole to take advantage of the lull in that conflict that followed the collapse of the Taleban regime in late 2001 to strengthen the capacity of the new Afghan government to project its authority and provide public services, including security, to the population beyond Kabul. The second cause is
the fragmentation of the international coalition that the United States put together in late 2001 to stabilize and reconstruct Afghanistan."

Testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on January 30, 2007. Source: Rand Corp

Download PDF Report | Link to RAND Online

Preventing Teen Motor Crashes: Contributions from the Behavioral and Social Sciences: Workshop Report (2007)

"Young people in the United States are at greater risk of dying or being injured in an automobile than their peers around the world, in part because they are licensed to drive earlier and with less experience than youth in other countries (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2006). If current trends continue, a cumulative total of more than 100,000 adolescents and young adults (ages 16 to 24) who are alive today will die in car crashes in the next 10 years (Winston and Senserrick, 2006).3 Furthermore, nearly two of every three people killed in teen-driver crashes are people other than the teen driver (American Automobile Association, 2006). By any measure, then, automobile crashes are one of the most critical public health problems in the United States." Source: National Academy of Sciences Board on Children, Youth and Families

Link to download site and/or read online

The House's "Pay-As-You-Go" (PAYGO) Rule in the 110th Congress: A Brief Overview

"On January 5, 2007, the House of Representatives adopted H.Res. 6, a measure setting forth its rules for the 110th Congress. Section 405 of the measure added a new rule, known as the House's "pay-as-you-go" (PAYGO) rule, as Clause 10 of Rule XXI. The new rule was a key element of the House Democratic leadership's legislative agenda for the beginning of the 110th Congress. The House's PAYGO rule requires that legislation affecting direct spending or revenues must not increase the deficit (or reduce the surplus) over a six-year period, including the current year, the upcoming fiscal year, and the four following fiscal years, as well as an 11-year period (the previously cited period and the ensuing five fiscal years). The rule is enforced on the basis of estimates made by the House Budget Committee relative to the baseline projections made by the Congressional Budget Office under established procedures. While a PAYGO rule is new in the House, the Senate has had such a rule since 1993. The Senate has modified its PAYGO rule several times over the years, and efforts are expected to be made in 2007 to make its application more stringent. At present, there are notable differences between the House and Senate PAYGO rules. In addition, efforts may be made to renew the statutory PAYGO requirement that affected legislation enacted during calendar year 1991 through the end of FY2002." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Child Welfare: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits for Children in Foster Care

"Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available under Title XVI of the Social Security Act for certain children with disabilities if their families have low incomes and minimal assets. Social Security benefits may be paid under Title II of the act to the children of workers who have retired, become disabled, or died. An estimated 30,000 children receive SSI or other Social Security benefits while in foster care. Federal regulations require that in most cases the Social Security Administration (SSA) select and assign a representative payee -- an individual, organization, or government entity -- that manages SSI and Social Security payments for children, including those in foster care. Nearly all states designated as the representative payee for a foster child use the child's benefits as a funding stream for child welfare spending. In Washington State Department of Social and Health Services v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler (hereafter Keffeler), the Supreme Court held that the process used by the state of Washington to keep the Social Security benefits received as a child's representative payee was not prohibited by the Social Security Act. The Court also concluded that the use of funds for reimbursement for foster care services was consistent with the act's provisions that such funds be spent for the "use and benefit of the beneficiary" and within the regulatory definition of "current maintenance" (i.e., food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and personal comfort items). While the Keffeler decision supports states' practice of using SSI and other Social Security benefits for reimbursement of foster care, some child advocates remain concerned that this practice is misguided. They assert that by using a child's SSI or other Social Security benefits to reimburse the cost of foster care, the state agency is denying these children funding that rightly belongs to them. Advocates also raise concern that child welfare agencies are often automatically assigned as the representative payee for children in foster care. On the other hand, child welfare agencies and other advocates argue that if states were not able to use benefits to pay for a child's foster care room and board, then states would simply stop screening children to determine their eligibility for these Social Security programs. They further argue that if child SSI beneficiaries were given all of their benefits while in care, they would accumulate assets in the form of savings and would be above the maximum resource level needed to maintain eligibility for the SSI program. Changes governing how child welfare agencies are assigned as representative payees or how they use benefits to fund foster care under Title II and Title XVI would require congressional action." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Secrecy and War: The Origins of Private Information

"This paper shows why states, acting in their own self-interest, may create informational asymmetries that lead to war. In our model, two actors with no private
information invest in military capacity before engaging in crisis bargaining. If bargaining fails, the states go to war, and the payoffs of a war depend on the two states’ military capacities. We show that in a large class of settings the states have incentives to keep each other guessing about their exact levels of capacity — even though doing so creates the risk of war. Thus, self interest and strategy are to blame for war. Our paper explains two stylized facts: States devote considerable resources to secrecy in the national-security realm, and often disagree about the balance of capabilities. Source: U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Paper WP2007-2.

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Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations in Iraq

"This report provides background and discusses constitutional provisions allocating war powers between Congress and the President. It presents an historical overview of relevant court cases followed by some examples of measures enacted by Congress to restrict military operations. The report includes a discussion of possible alternative avenues to fund operations in the event Congress were to restrict appropriations for the war in Iraq. Finally, the report provides a brief analysis of arguments that might be brought to bear on the question of Congress's authority to limit the availability of troops to serve in Iraq, and concludes that, although not beyond debate, such a restriction appears to be within Congress's authority to allocate resources for military operations." Source: Congressional Research Service

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UN Report: Lessons learned from the tsunami disaster

If anything, the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster experience has demonstrated that there is an urgent need for strengthening the understanding and application of existing internationally established guidelines on disaster relief and recovery in most of the disaster-affected countries. It was also demonstrated that there exist no clear and coherent regulatory agreements on disaster management and humanitarian assistance, except for the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations (hereinafter called “the Tampere Convention”). Consequently, in order to have an international regulatory framework which disaster-affected countries and the assisting countries will be bound to apply on the ground, it is of utmost importance for the United Nations system to assist in strengthening national disaster management frameworks, and for the Economic and Social Council to initiate a process of formulating coherent international legal instruments and regulations in an intergovernmental decision-making process open to all types of potential stakeholders and actors concerned. Source: United Nations

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Katrina insurance settlement rejection ruling [US DC]

"Woullard v. State Farm, US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, January 27, 2006 [ruling rejecting for the time being a proposed settlement reached between the State Farm insurance company and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on behalf of hundreds of Mississippi policy holders whose claims were denied after Hurricane Katrina]." Source: US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi [via the Jurist]

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Tagging Play

Forget Dewey and His Decimals, Internet Users Are Revolutionizing the Way We Classify Information - and Make Sense of It

"Just as the internet allows users to create and share their own media, it is also enabling them to organize digital material their own way, rather than relying on pre-existing formats of classifying information.

A December 2006 survey has found that 28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content.

The report features an interview with David Weinberger, a prominent blogger and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society." Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project.

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The Internet Is Creating a New Class of Web-Savvy Political Activists

"The number of Americans who got most of their information about the 2006 campaign on the internet doubled from the most recent mid-term election in 2002 and rivaled the number from the 2004 presidential election year.

In all, 15% of all American adults say the internet was their primary source for campaign news during the election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002 and close to the 18% of Americans who said they relied on the internet during the presidential campaign cycle in 2004." Source: Pew Research Center (released Jan. 17, 2007)

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